Recruitment is now under way for the first batch of the 75 high calibre jobs announced for two new film companies in Derry.
Top American TV and film company executives joined an invited local audience of artists and media experts and students for the launch of the two firms at the Centre for Contemporary Art on Artillery Street on Easter Saturday.
One of the companies, SmithDehn NI, will see an established US media law firm hiring and training legal talent locally to service their TV and film clients in America and across the world.
SmithDehn LLP have been behind the ground-breaking legal content of shows such as ‘Da Ali G Show’ and ‘Borat’, as well as the Oscar-winning film ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ and the BAFTA-winning ‘The Imposter’.
Their long VIP client list includes Twentieth Century Fox, HBO (makers of Games of Thrones), Paramount Pictures, BBC America, Sony Pictures and Channel 4,
The other company to be set up in Derry will be Social Construct Media NI, a joint venture between SmithDehn and the Sundance award-winning American company Social Construct Films.
The new company is being set up to become a major international player in terms of film and TV production, financing and sales.
One of their first projects will be an ‘uplifting’ drama featuring Northern Ireland, arising from ideas to be developed by a local cross-community story collective.
The new company has already three films and three TV series planned for shooting and post-production in Northern Ireland, starting this Autumn.
Both companies will be based at The Playhouse on Artillery Street and are due to become operational by July.
SmithDehn arrived in Derry several months ago to set up a university course at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus to train media law professionals and producers for the for the international industry.
In a further new development, the company announced at the weekend that the course will now be run every year.
SmithDehn partner and Social Construct Media chief executive Russell Smith, speaking at the launch in Derry, said that since his visit to Derry 19 years ago, the contrast from the current city was “night and day”.
He described having guns pointed “in your face” at border check points back then.
“Now that we have been here for three months with the first gathering of students, we have seen the spirit, we have seen the energy. We have seen a sort of rising in the city,” he said.
Acclaimed ‘Midnight Son’ actor Zak Kilberg, who founded Social Construct five years ago and now works on the other side of the camera, told those gathered at the centre that he had “no idea” he would be in Derry up until three months ago, and after being introduced to the city by Russell.
“The collaboration so far has been amazing,” he said.